Anyone can wish for success, but not everyone has what it takes. Together with Louis Vuitton, DAMAN celebrates the drive and resilience of four individuals who do, in an interweaving story of passion and fashion…
Aqsa Aswar: Victory In His Hand
The 18th Asian Games held in 2018 witnessed a young Indonesian male jet skier, Aqsa Aswar, claiming a gold medal. His victory helped Indonesia reach fourth position in the medal table, surpassing Uzbekistan, Iran and India. Born into a family of jet skiers, Aswar has been familiar with the water sport since he was a kid, but it was his father, Saiful Sutan Aswar, the chairman of Indonesia Jetsport Boating Association who inspired him to take up the sport seriously.
“My father was a jet ski athlete. He showed my brother and I different options like kart racing, motor racing and jet skiing … and we went with
jet skiing,” he begins. “We were just playing around at the time. As we grew up, my father saw the talent in us. I competed in a race or two and realized that I enjoyed this sport, so I’ve been doing it until now.”
Aswar became the runner-up at the Pro-Am Runabout Stock Finals category in the 2021 Jettrim WGP-1 World Finals. His elder brother, Aero Aswar, also competed in the championship. Despite his victory, Aswar reveals his concern regarding his two-year absence due to the pandemic. “I was so nervous. Back then, I didn’t feel that way because I participated in a lot of competitions,” he says. “After a two-year hiatus, I returned to the race and it was a world championship, which is a big deal. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid of losing, falling … everything. But as I thought about it again, I saw it like any other competition l used to enter, so I just let it flow and raced.”
The journey to the winner’s stand was not a stress-free ride for him. Aswar recalls how it took him three to four months to prepare for the World Finals. “The competition was in October. Our preparation took three to four months because initially, we weren’t sure if we were able to go due to COVID,” he elaborates. “For three months, I practiced every day. I wanted to be mentally ready, but since I hadn’t competed for a pretty long time, I became so nervous. But still, I did it anyway and I figured that, at the very least, I had to be in the top three. I wouldn’t want my rank to drop. So, yeah, at least top three. I won second place despite not competing for two years, so that’s not bad.”
When asked about the most memorable moment from the World Finals, Aswar surprisingly says that it was the preparation. Not being able to jump into competitions for two years has dramatically changed his routine. “During that two-year hiatus, we just hit the gym and did cardio exercises,” Aswar continues. “All of sudden, we faced a competition. We felt like we have to conquer it, we can’t embarrass ourselves.” Aswar also recalls how
the past two years has affected his competitiveness. “But I do other sports to stay competitive because it is an important aspect in the race,” he shares. “We have to fight until the last drop of blood. That competitive spirit I had was gone, which is obviously bad, but I managed to come back.”
All in all, jet ski competitions have imparted quite a few precious lessons for the 24-year-old athlete. Aswar admits that patience is his weakness, yet the races he has participated in taught him to become a calmer person. “Not everything goes your way all the time. We want to win. Everybody wants to win. If we lead the race and our jet ski suddenly stops, what can we do? If something is not destined to be ours, then it’s not for us,” Aswar elaborates. “We have to be able to accept that we can’t always win—and that requires a lot of patience. Since I’m impatient and emotional, I had to learn to be cool- headed and stop grumbling.”
Then he continues: “I want to win instantly, claim first place instantly. I have an elder brother. If he wins and I lose, that might be irritating for me but I have to observe his work ethic. Let’s say I lose, but I know that my work ethic is not as good as his. Well, then, it’s reasonable for him to win, but as a younger brother, I can’t just accept it. So, I have to work harder to beat him. It’s so tiring to be an athlete, but it is what it is.”
As the conversation went on, Aswar also shares his secrets to be a great athlete. He mentions three things: discipline, consistency and commitment. “We also must be willing to make sacrifices,” Aswar adds. “We have to go to bed early, eat healthy, exercise early in the morning and so on. Anyone can do it if they want to, but the fact is not everyone is willing.” He also believes that being competitive in every aspect also serves as a strength to have to make him a good athlete. “There’s no use to compete if you don’t have that flame inside you. Everyone wants to win, but not everyone has that flame,” he remarks.
Besides jet-skiing, Aswar has also shown interest in a number of other sports, including golf, basketball, soccer, badminton and even table tennis. “But I’m not really good at them,” he asserts. “I like those sports, but that’s it. I’m good at jet skiing but for other sports, I’m not that good.” Aswar also understands the importance of an active social media presence to build his brand as he wants to create a good image of what an athlete is and welcomes sponsors. “I’m in this talent management, Kaca Kreatif. They take care of all my content, everything,” he says. “They help me build my image, which is cool, so I don’t have to worry about it.”
Looking forward to what the future might hold for him, Aswar wants to win the World Championship ten times. “At least ten times,” he wishes. “So, nine more to go.” The athlete is also scheduled to participate in another competition, possibly in May in the U.S. “The season starts in May in the U.S. There would be like a U.S. tour and I would participate in it. As for the World Championship, it will be held possibly in October,” he concludes
Al Ghazali: The Virtuoso
Young, talented, and free. These three words perfectly describe actor, singer and DJ Al Ghazali. The firstborn of Ahmad Dhani and Maia Estianty—both prominent figures in the Indonesian music industry—Ghazali has realized from a very young age that music is a passion embedded in his heart. It’s safe to say that Ghazali and music are two entities that cannot be separated. His love for music traces back to his childhood—specifically, to a rather unique habit of his father at the time. “I’ve been listening to music since I was a kid. Wherever I am, be it at a shooting location or somewhere else, I would listen to music. And whenever I slept, my father would play music so loudly that it felt like he was ‘brainwashing’ me,” he reminisces.
“I’ve never really learned how to sing but I guess I had a video showing myself playing drums. I think it was when I was four,” Ghazali recalls further. “So, the drum kit was my first instrument, followed by the guitar. As for singing, I am a self-taught singer.” Ghazali mentioned songs popular in the ’60s and ’70s from bands like The Beatles and Queen as the kinds of music he is still listening to even today. Interestingly, he named legendary English singer-songwriter and The Beatles vocalist John Lennon as one of the muses for his musical direction. “Lennon was the first to craft modern music in the industry, I would say. He was also brave enough to explore all music genres,” he remarks.
When asked about decisive moments in his life, Ghazali mentioned the moment he shifted to DJing. He looked back at the first time he tried his hand at the turntable. “I was in the second year of junior high school and there was a Halloween party at home. MymomwasaDJbackthen,soI decided to give it a try. I didn’t expect that the crowd would like it. That was my turning point,” Ghazali looks back.
Of course, that wasn’t Ghazali’s only shift. Describing himself as an art enthusiast, the 24-years old singer began his acting career through the 2014 movie “Runaway.” He found his passion in acting by re-enacting scenes in the movies he watched and describes himself as a self-taught actor. One of his most memorable acting moments came when he joined the cast of “Little Mom,” an Indonesian web series released in 2021. There, he played as Keenan, a high school troublemaker. “We were shooting in the midst of the pandemic, and it was tedious,” he says. “The production time was expected to be a month and half but it ended up going on for three months.” The series was recognized by the Indonesian World-Record Museum as the first Indonesian series to become trending in 24 countries, which Ghazali sees as his greatest achievement so far.
As it happens, Ghazali is also quite the soccer fanatic. He admits he wanted to be a soccer player when he was a child, to the point he almost flew to England to pursue that dream. “Back then, I liked spending time with my friends. I loved hanging out with them so leaving them was hard for me. That was something I regret,” he recalls. Still, Ghazali makes sure never to miss the matches of his favorite soccer team, Manchester United. “I play soccer with my brothers, too,” he adds. “I have my own team. We merged my, El’s, and Dul’s teams to form this new group. We used to have our own teams, but after a while, we thought about merging our teams since we have great players.”
When our conversation veered to social media, Ghazali confesses that he is not really into it. Amid the rise of TikTok, he sticks to Instagram. “I use Instagram only to post photos. Nothing more,” he says. “TikTok is huge promotion, but I don’t use it.”
As for upcoming projects, Ghazali is currently shooting a new series with a plot similar to the aforementioned “Little Mom.” “So, there is this girl. She’s a virgin, yet pregnant through IVF,” Ghazali begins. “My character as someone who protects this girl, as she is pregnant not because of something ‘bad’ but due to a medical procedure. He initially acts cold and harsh towards her, but eventually learns that she is pregnant with his younger sibling. That’s interesting.”
Ghazali states his wish to explore music further in the future and to form a band. He wants to release his own album featuring his own music, and go on a world tour. “I’ll stick with pop-rock for the genre, but I’ll explore more instruments,” he elaborates. Ghazali also wishes to become a music or film producer, while also asserting that he needs to learn more about the industry as he is a pretty new player in this field. Following his father’s path, he considers forming a management agency. And to keep his passion for soccer alive, Ghazali is building a mini- soccer field and plans to establish a soccer academy
For this photoshoot, by the way, Ghazali posed in two casual ensembles from Louis Vuitton. He adores the concept of the fashion shoot, highlighting its uniqueness. “It’s more casual and the set has a chess table. I like it because it’s so vintage,” he comments. Ghazali expresses his preference towards the ensemble composed of gradient a mesh blouson, football T-shirt and white denim pants, paired with a Sac Plat XS and black Runner Tatic Sneakers. “I feel like this one is so me,” he goes on. “The other one, the tracksuit, looks sporty but I feel more comfortable in this look. More laid-back.”
BEAUZ: The Game Changers
In the ever-changing music industry, electronic dance music or EDM has become one of the most popular genres in Indonesia. For the past decade or so, the nation’s EDM scene has been driven by the likes of Winky Wiryawan, Riri Mestika and trio Weird Genius. However, the year 2015 saw the birth of DJ and music producer duo BEAUZ. Consisting of brothers Bernie and Johan Yang, the group began its journey in the founding duo’s university years. “We never lived together after high school,” Bernie recalls. “But we lived together for one year while I was in college. I asked him one day, ‘Do you want to make some music like Avicii?’ and he was like ‘Let’s do it!’ So, he downloaded a music production software called FL Studio and we just started from there.”
Bernie and Johan grew up listening to hip-hop and Mandarin pop music. The brothers also learned classical music, as both were trained in piano. Bernie’s interest in EDM was sparked when he discovered the genre while he was in university. “I went to my first music festival and I fell in love with it,” Bernie recalls. “I was like ‘Wow! People can just DJ on stage like that!’ and I thought maybe I can do it, too.”
Johan then adds: “Honestly, we have always known that our lives are going to be entangled with music in some way, shape or form.” The brothers also clearly remember that prior to their dive into the ocean of energetic tempo, catchy beats, and eargasmic basslines, they were offered to form a boyband. “When we were still in high school, our mom was offered a deal from Universal Music Studio,” Bernie recalls. “They wanted to train us to be in a boyband. But after negotiations, our mom was like: ‘No, you guys have to go to college. Education first, education first.’”
So far, BEAUZ has released a number of addictive tracks. The duo has even collaborated with YouTube star Atta Halilintar, Aurel Hermansyah, Lenggogeni Feruk and Indonesian diva Krisdayanti in an ethnic hip-hop piece titled “This Is Indonesia” to celebrate the nation’s 76th Independence Day. This year, they have packed three new titles in their brand new EP titled, “Rave Game.” The titular track features Chinese rapper NINEONE# on the vocals and the music video is reminiscent of retro video games with blazing vibrant colors and psychedelic transitions. “We usually make radio-friendly, super catchy, melodic songs, but this EP is something different,” says Johan about their latest extended play. “It’s our statement to the world that we are actually DJs who can also pump up the party to the next level and make the vibe go wild.”
Regarding its creative process, BEAUZ states that “Rave Game” is a specific work, stylistically different to what the duo usually craft even though the process is pretty similar. The opus boasts uniquely- designed drops and missing rhythms in its segments, straying away from the typical four-by-four beat pattern. “It catches people off guard but also keeps them hooked,” Johan says. “The very dense, driven basslines make them very alive and know that the party is back even with all the things going on in the world.” Bernie also states that through this EP, they want to surprise their listeners and let them know that the duo can produce cool dance tracks. “I think we have achieved that with this EP,” he asserts.
Simple, catchy and fresh. That’s how the duo describes their style of music. Yet, hardcore fans and music enthusiasts know that their creations are more than just ordinary get-up tracks. Still, their musical journey is full of changes and the duo mentions growth and evolving as the qualities they really uphold. “Growth is always something someone has to embrace if they want to survive and get to the next level. Evolving is something we always embrace. We always want to change for the better,” Johan elaborates. “There are a lot of challenges and difficulties thrown at us in our career and if we don’t evolve and embrace the changes, then we will not be here today.”
To that, Bernie adds: “Basically, the biggest difference between us when we first started and us right now is that we’re willing to step outside of our comfort zone and do things that we never imagined that we would do. For example, appearing in TV shows, making pop music, stuff like that.” As other markets were shut down due to the pandemic, the brothers went to China to further develop their career. Discovering a wealth of new experiences there, Bernie and Johan learned to take center stage and sing their own tracks in dance events, as well as pop concerts alongside other pop stars. “I think that’s a very surprising change. Now we know how to incorporate all the styles and become versatile artists,” Johan remarks.
Talking about their inspiration, BEAUZ named Avicii, Zedd, DJ Snake and The Chainsmokers as the muses guiding their musical career. “When I first discovered Avicii, I was so obsessed. It was so life- changing for me,” Bernie recalls. With their hard work and persistence, the duo was able to claim the 55th rank on the renowned Top100 DJ list released by British magazine DJ Mag. That achievement became more than just a blessing for them—it opened the door for them to represent their culture, Indonesian and Chinese in particular. “Usually, this list is dominated by Europeans, Americans and once in a while there is going to be a few Asians who get into the chart. But for us, it means so much that we’re climbing to number 55, representing Indonesia and China—our heritage, basically. It’s a big step forward for Asians in the dance music scene and we know it’s just the start,” Johan elaborates.
In the age of Instagram and TikTok, BEAUZ sees the importance of having a strong presence on social media. To that end, they have spent a lot of effort to manage their social media account and reach new audiences while maintaining what they already have. “Our fans send us really encouraging messages on Instagram. Whenever we receive a heartwarming message, it keeps us going and motivates us to do better and be the best versions
of ourselves for them,” Bernie expresses. Johan then adds that social media allows them, as musicians, to be their fans’ friends and become part of their everyday lives. At the same time, they also showcase snippets taken from their life to inspire more people.
In the future, BEAUZ’s priorities include putting out hit songs and gaining a billion streams on Spotify. They will also work on climbing to a higher position on DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ list, therefore becoming an even better example for other Asian artists. They also hope to collaborate with the musicians they’ve looked up to and visit cities they have never been to. As for now, Bernie and Johan are spending their time in Jakarta, enjoying quality time with their family and satisfying their long-time yearning for their favorite Indonesian food. “We haven’t seen our mom and sister for two years, so it’s really a blessing to really see them again and spend a lot of time together in Jakarta,” says Bernie.
PHOTOGRAPHY ANDRE WIREDJA
STYLING LINTANG HUTAMI
GROOMING NOVIA DIAH TRISELA (FOR AL), ARIMBI FOR AQSA & BEAUZ
MODEL AL GHAZALI, BEAUZ AND AQSA ASWAR
LOCATION GRAND HYATT JAKARTA (FOR AL)
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